By Dency McClure
When Coach Carroll invited me to their Midnight Madness, I was very excited. I’ve never gotten to cover two in a season. I quietly left around 11 as to not disturb the night even though I was excited. I drove way slower than normal. I’m in a tiny Fiat, and the thought of taking on a deer with it makes me feel like Evel Knievel about to jump. Just a sick adrenaline rush.
When I rolled into town, I could see the stadium lights. Cranfills Gap ISD is easy to find as there is a big sign right on the highway. When you turn onto the side street, you are greeted by big paw prints painted on the road that let you know you are in Lion country. It’s the little things like visible signs and painted roads that make life easier for me.
Once I got to the school I could see several cars already parked. Some were players and some were fans. I was greeted by a group of masked riders...couldn’t resist. They were masked coaches, players, and fans. They greeted me as I walked past on my way to the field. Coach Carroll opened the gate for several of us so we could go on up to the field. The field sits in an area that has been cut out of a hill. One side of the stadium backs up to the hill.
Not all the stadium lights were on yet. Coach Carroll informed me they hadn’t all come on as expected. Before the night was over, most of them were lighting the field nicely. That’s one thing about having a midnight madness, you get to check some things you might not have before the first home game.
Once the kids took the field, I quickly spied a girl. Not that unusual in Six-man especially in junior high. Yes, they do all the drills and make and take tackles. I’ve seen a few play in high school including a girl play in a TSMCA All-Star game and one at AT&T stadium in a state game. 1A girls are small town strong and I must say 1A boys and coaches accepting them has made the difference. Small towns make many opportunities possible that would never be possible in larger towns. I asked Coach Carroll about her after practice, and he told me she had played all through junior high and was a freshman this year. I could tell she had playing experience as she did not stick out during any drill.
I was loving the music. Nothing like “Fat Bottom Girls” and “Welcome to the Jungle” to make a midnight madness complete. Apparently, at midnight and in a residential area it was a bit much for some. I can understand that. Once the music was turned down, it just wasn’t quite the same but practice went on in a much quieter setting.
It’s always interesting to see the different drills coaches use. They all have their own style and the things they were taught that they bring to the table. I must admit I enjoy the drills where they are head to head on the ground and have to hop up to tackle. I personally don’t want to have to do it as I’d be down and out for a week after, but it’s very impressive to watch. I also enjoyed the back-to-back drills and the element of surprise. Very good drills, indeed. Lots of throwing and catching as well last night.
I got to cover a Granfills Gap game last year during the playoffs. Unfortunately, it was their last that season. I was so impressed with them as a team. They were a team of talent and heart last season and I saw much the same during last night's practice. During last season’s game, they kept giving it their all even through injuries. I left feeling honored to have been on their sidelines and getting to be a part for only a moment in time. Hopefully, we will see them make the playoffs again this season.
There were several fans watching in the bleachers, some standing along the metal rail fence, and a couple in lawn chairs. Lots of laughter and visiting could be heard. Even with masks and precautions, the socializing continued. There was even a baby! It’s so nice to see people enjoying each other’s company and supporting their local kids.
This time of August I am very thankful for a cool night practice. Once practice ended everyone cleared out pretty quickly. Something about it being 2:00AM probably helped with that. I made the slow drive back to my base camp not seeing any other cars but several deer. Glad I made it back safely and didn’t have to face off with any deer.
See you on the sidelines!
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